Shohei Ohtani tops Forbes’ list of MLB’s highest-paid players

Shohei Ohtani is due for a massive pay raise when he hits free agency after the 2023 MLB season. But the Los Angeles Angels‘ two-way superstar is already the highest-paid player in baseball when factoring in off-field endorsement deals, according to Forbes.

The magazine recently released its 2023 rankings of the top-10 overall highest-paid MLB players, with Ohtani in the top spot at a projected $65 million in earnings this year. Of that $65 million, however, $35 million is set to come just from endorsements. By comparison, the other nine players on Forbes’ list are currently set to make just $13.2 million combined from endorsements.

Shohei Ohtani and Team Japan are World Baseball Classic champs

Forbes credits Ohtani’s star power and marketability in both the United States and his native Japan as the reasons for his relatively massive earnings from endorsements. That star power has only grown in recent weeks, as Ohtani led the Japanese national baseball team to a climactic World Baseball Classic championship — and gained roughly two million more Instagram followers in the process.

[Shohei Ohtani’s ‘unicorn’ essence on full display in WBC]

“Shohei’s earning power is analogous to that of an NBA signature shoe athlete. … He’ll probably be the first and only baseball player of this generation that has the ability to have that level of commercial impact for a brand,” New Balance chief marketing officer Chris Davis told Forbes.

The athletes who round out Forbes’ list of highest-paid MLB players in 2023 will receive most of their projected earnings through their respective playing contracts with their teams. Those players are:

[Japan edges USA in WBC final after Ohtani strikes out Trout]

Forbes says its rankings do not include potential performance-based incentives that may be included in players’ contracts and thus bump up their earnings. Its projections are merely estimates and not ironclad predictions, and taxes and agent’s fees are not factored into the total. 

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Shohei Ohtani

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